jo skates

Skating in the key of life

The swing roll full-body workout


Great figure skaters are known for adding something distinctive and memorable to the sport: I think of the hydroblading of Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kratz or that wonderful “goose” lift that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir used to do. At the recent Short Dance event for the Trophee Eric Bompard,  Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin did their first set of twizzles in a sit-spin position (around 1:26 in). I’m not sure if other teams have done this before, but it was pretty cool to watch.

I’ve been trying to think of my contribution to this distinguished history. This will have to be more modest. Snort.

But I am spending what must be record-setting amounts of time and energy perfecting my swing rolls. After each session on the ice this week, I’ve felt like I’ve used every muscle in my body.

Lately, a number of friends and relatives have enthusiastically described their “Orangetheory” fitness sessions, which does seem like a really good way to get into shape. I’ve been invited to join them, but my excuse for not spending the hour doing this treadmill, rowing, TRX-plus combo is that I’m too spent after all those swing rolls.

So here it is, the full-body swing roll workout. It’s sort of like one of those spacecraft launches in which there are different things happening in sequence, and if one thing doesn’t quite work that whole thing could go horribly, horribly wrong.

Stage 1: The push. Arms have to be in the right place. Brain has to tell me not to push off onto a diagonal and cut off the circle. Pushing knee, ankle, and foot are all engaged. Weight stays over that pushing side all long as possible.

Stage 2: The transfer of weight. Arms do not release early. Head is up and back pretends like it is still over that pushing foot. The new skating blade hits the ice on an edge (not flat!), which means the foot is engaged. The new skating ankle keeps bending as the weight is transferred, which means that the new skating knee keeps bending too. More on that in another post.

Stage 3: The glide. Ankle keeps bending. Knee comes forward. Thigh and glute muscles are engaged.

Stage 4: The riseEntire body draws up over skating side as knee straightens. Ankle remains flexible so that momentum of body is slightly forward of skate. Arms release to allow core rotation. Hips roll under. Free leg comes in and through.

Stage 5: Forward extension. Everything is drawn up nicely along the circle. Holding my breath.

Stage 6: Change of edge and next swing roll. This is if I’m doing alternating swing rolls, or going into a progressive in the other direction, which I often am.

Okay, I know that I am making a big deal out of what is a very basic move. But I have to say that I have gotten a lot of endorphins (those endogenous opioid neuropeptides) going just by doing these swing rolls lately.  Part of it has to do with the fact that I have all these different muscles that are stronger and more active, so I feel like I can finally use my body properly. And I have changed certain basic things about my body position so that the movement is easier. More on that in my next post.

While not as sweat-inducing as hot yoga, a session full of swing rolls does work up an appetite! Time for a snack and then to work on another ankle-bending post.


Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

2 thoughts on “The swing roll full-body workout

  1. The sit spin twizzles were out of this world! Wow! I’m not sure what my contribution to the sport would be – maybe hard work and determination as an adult (freestyle) skater?


  2. Your dedication and energy are definitely an inspiration, Eva! You go, girl!


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